Put the physical in education

Sept. 4, 2014, The New York Times [Well Blog]

By Gretchen Reynolds

When confronted with an overly active child, many exasperated teachers and parents respond the same way: “Sit still!” It might be more effective, though, to encourage the child to run. Recent research suggests that even small amounts of exercise enable children to improve their focus and academic performance.

By now it’s well known that diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are increasingly widespread among American children: The label has been applied to about 11 percent of those between the ages of 4 and 17, according to the latest federal statistics. Interestingly, past studies have shown a strong correlation between greater aerobic fitness and attentiveness. But these studies did not answer the question of which comes first, the fitness or the attentional control. Continue reading

Obesity linked to lower grades among teen girls

March 11, 2014, NPR [Shots Blog]

By Linda Poon

Childhood obesity has made it to the forefront of public health issues, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

Now researchers at the Universities of Dundee, Strathclyde, Georgia, and Bristol say that not only does obesity affect a child’s overall health, but it may also lead to poorer school performance among teenage girls. Among boys, the link is less apparent.

Since the 1990s, the United Kingdom has seen childhood obesity rates grow at an alarming rate, says John Reilly, specialist in the prevention of childhood obesity at the University of Strathclyde, and the study’s lead author. Today, nearly a quarter of children in United Kingdom are obese by the time they reach age 12. Continue reading

Exercise ‘boosts academic performance’ of teenagers

Oct. 22, 2013, BBC News

Intensive exercise improves the academic performance of teenagers, according to new research.

The study of about 5,000 children found links between exercise and exam success in English, math, and science.

It found an increase in performance for every extra 17 minutes boys exercised, and 12 minutes for girls.

The study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee in Scotland found physical activity particularly benefited girls’ performance at science.

The authors said this could be a chance finding or reflect gender differences in the impact of physical activity on the brain.

Children who carried out regular exercise, not only did better academically at age 11 but also at age 13 and in their exams at age 16, the study suggested. Continue reading